The Montreal Canadiens drafted Ryan O’Byrne in the third round of the 2003 draft, 79th overall, out
of the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCJHL. O’Byrne is now at Cornell University, known for its strong
academics and excellent hockey program. He recently spoke to Hockey’s Future as his semester
HF: How difficult has it been to adapt to the play of the NCAA vs the BCJHL?
RO: It’s a big change as the players are quicker, bigger and stronger, but it’s the different systems that
are used that take time to understand. It’s both a mental and physical adjustment, but more mental then
anything, as you are held accountable for your decisions on the ice.
HF: What were your impressions of the development camp/rookie tournament for the Habs this
RO: It was a great experience. Ten days of hard work, but you got a chance to see the other players in
the tournament, who are all skilled players, and some of them I may be competing against down the
road. It was interesting with management in the stands, as they watched over the prospects, it was a
little tough knowing they were up there.
HF: Did management give you any instructions on what they want you to work on for the future?
RO: They gave me a couple tips, but not too much. They gave me some tips to help with my strength
and conditioning, but they said that didn’t want to interfere with the great program at Cornell, as they
knew I would be well coached.
HF: What would you say are your main assets, what do you bring to the organization?
RO: Well I’m a big defenseman, I play a solid physical game, skate well, and make a good first pass. I
like to use my size, while being able to help out in both ends of the rink, which is important.
HF: What was your reaction to being drafted by the Habs, and did you interview with them prior to the
RO: It was a truly amazing experience. Just getting drafted by an NHL team was a real thrill, but to be
drafted by a Canadian team, especially one with such a great history was the biggest moment in my
hockey career. Yes I did interview with them, they were one of the first teams I met with.
HF: Is there someone in the NHL you try to play like?
RO: Well I would have to say Arron Miller. He played in the NCAA, has good size, skating, and plays
a physical style of defense. I try and play a similar type of defense.
HF: Why did you chose Cornell over other schools and what are you studying?
RO: I chose Cornell because of their athletics and their hockey program. It’s not a big school, but they
have high standards of education, and a lot is expected of you, to meet the standards and do well. I am
currently in Business school, with an undecided major. I just got done taking my finals for the semester.
HF: What type of workout program are you using?
RO: They have us work on our strength and conditioning, I work out two or three times a week during
the season, and more in the off season. That’s the good thing about playing in the NCAA, you play less
games, so you have a lot of time to spend working out.